The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, December 31, 2007

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

As I prepare to say goodbye to 2007, I pause to reflect on all the wonderful people and love I experience everyday. It was the best of times and the worst of times, but that's what an ordinary life is. The ups and downs, the ins and outs, moments of great happiness and times of loss and grief. My mother-in-law's illness and death in September was the darkness that infiltrated much of the year. But I was able to take comfort from the relationship we had forged over 22 years. How lucky I am to have had her in my life! And everyday I wake up with her son beside me. We've been married for 22 years. We have two sons who are becoming young men faster than I can believe. We both have jobs, a beautiful home, and friends and family around us. We have financial security and good health. We share the same values and attitude about how to live our lives. Life is good. Can it be better? Probably. Will we try to make it better? Absolutely! I'm looking forward to 2008. Bring. It. On.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Last Ride for 2007

Today was a gift-- a beautiful winter day, with temps into the low 50s. Yesterday, when I realized it was going to be a great day to be outdoors, I put a bike ride up on the club's website. It rained overnight, and the morning was cloudy and a bit foggy, but I could see the front moving out, the blue skies emerging and the temperature rising. I had 3 people join me, and I had never ridden with any of them. Arie is a much stronger rider than the 3 of us, but seemed content to slow down for this ride. Norm rides at about the same speed as me. Deb was the slow poke today, but no one was in a hurry. We were enjoying the chance to be out there and having the company, so we waited for her. The ride up to the coffee shop in Katonah has some decent climbs, and when we got there, we all had iced drinks! The round trip was 24 miles. I'm sure this was my last ride in 2007, but it was a great way to end my 2007 season!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Money Pit

DH and I have noticed a crack in the ceiling in the kitchen. It has been slowly getting worse. There is a bathroom, more specifically a bathtub directly above the crack, so we have tried ignoring the crack to see if it would miraculously disappear. Yesterday we had another plumbing problem so DH decided it was time to overcome active denial and consent to exploratory surgery on the ceiling. Ian, the plumber is a very friendly man who obviously enjoys the challenge of finding the source of a leak, with zest and devotion akin to Livingstone searching for the source of the Nile. Armed with equal amounts of passion and skill, Ian wielded a sheetrock knife and a flashlight and began his quest. His search turned up several potential problems but unconvinced that he had found the real problem, he followed the trail of clues up to the attic (forensic plumbing). When he poured water into a pipe draining the condensing tray of the air conditioning unit and the water poured out of the ceiling in the kitchen, he was ecstatic! I was screaming “stop” stop” and he was yelling “wow! this is great!”

While searching for the source of the Nile in our attic, Ian discovered another river. The plywood around the chimney is soaked. This is bad, this is a big bad river because it may mean we need a new roof. Or new siding. Or both. So DH and I will both put on our lifejackets as we start to navigate this new big bad river.

In the meantime, we are considering cutting additional holes into the ceiling in various locations in our center hall colonial home, and then covering them with plexiglass instead of boring old sheetrock. Then we could charge admission, to view the see-through house. Haven’t you ever wondered what the guts of your home look like, its digestive, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems? Want to see all the things that can go wrong in a house? Yes, we can provide a live view into the mouth (actually the ceiling) of the Money Pit.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Speed of Diminishing Returns

Christmas Day.... since I don't formally celebrate Christmas, this comes down to a day off. Usually that includes a good dose of television, some cooking, cleaning up, and otherwise catching up. But unlike other days off, it doesn't include is a trip to the gym, because along with practically every other business , it is closed. So today became a day to overcome slothdom and beat my own path to fitness. I did something I rarely do. I ran. On the road. Up and down hills. It was hard. But it was good.

I discovered something that would have escaped me if I only ran on a track because a track has no hills. When running uphill, if you slow down too much, you come to a speed of diminishing returns. It becomes more difficult to run uphill that slowly. You start to feel like you are running through mud. Or moving backwards. It's easier to push up the hill, and hold back a little on the downhill, to ease the recovery. And then I just got to a point where I knew I was on the last hill and I just wanted to be done with it and there was n o reason to hold back. I make it sound like I was out there running major mileage. It was only about 3.75 miles. But at least half of it was uphill!

I used this as an opportunity to try Burton's Headphone Beanie, which is a hat with built in headphones. Made by Burton, the snowboard company, meant more for snowboarders than for runners. I bought it as a Christmas present for a friend, mostly because when I saw it I thought it was really neat and I wanted to buy it for someone (other than me). Then I realized that my friend doesn't run outdoors much especially in the winter nor does she does she spend significant time on cross country skiis. I ended up buying her something else (a tie-dyed hoodie sweatshirt that she absolutely fell in love with). So I decided to try the headphone beanie to see if I want to keep it, give to someone else as a belated Christmas gift, or return it. Here is a picture of someone (not me) wearing a black one. Mine is beige. The hat is kinda cute, not dorky, and I'm sure very representative of snowboarder fashion. It wasn't a really cold day (low 40s) but the hat kept my head and ears toasty warm. The cord connecting the headphones to the iPod has its own volume control-- very handy. It wasn't heavy or awkward. The sound was good, not great, but good enough to propel me over the hills. I reconsidered gifting it, but after I got it a bit sweaty, well that would be kinda gross. So I either have to run outdoors more or hope we get more snow and wear it skiing or snowshoeing. Or wear it on the treadmill, start a new trend in fitness fashion.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It Looks Easy in the Video

My triathlon training plan includes teaching myself to swim "for real," instead of faking it. Let me explain. I can't swim freestyle for more than 20 yards, because I do it all wrong. So, whenever I need to cover any kind of distance in the pool, I do the breaststroke. So I got myself an instructional video, Freestyle Made Easy or something like that, produced by the Total Immersion Swimming Gurus. The video breaks freestyle swimming down to its very basic components and uses a set of drills to build your stroke from floating to swimming. Along the way they encourage you to be more fish-like, to swim like a fish instead of a barge. So I am trying to transform myself from a barge to a fish, that's the nitty gritty. It looks easy in the video. Today I practiced swimming on each side and rotating from side to side, without using my arms. Although I think I made progress, I discovered that its not easy to swim in a straight line (I kept wobbling off to the side). Moving forward without using your arms is like trying to walk fast without swinging your arms. It's just awkward. And its easy to get water up your nose. Unpleasant.

But I'm committed to giving this 100% effort. I want to swim like a fish! So I will be back in the pool, wobbling down the lane without any arms trying not to suck up too much water through my nose. I can't wait.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Avoiding Obsession

I typed "beginner triathlon training" into Google. As I started to wade through the 74,800 hits (I kid you not!), I realized that it would be easy to become obsessed with training. I took a look at a few websites with training programs, logs and journals, forums, and humorous anecdotes, and then I decided the last thing I need is to box myself into a 16 week tri-training program with long days, short days, recovery days, bricks, strength training and protein shakes. I'd be ready for the loony bin before the triathlon. So here is what I'm going to do; My Tri Training Program:

  1. I will start with the idea that I could probably finish the race today if it was today. It might not be pretty, and I might be dead last, but I think I could get it done.
  2. I am going to aim to work out 5 days a week. If I can only get in 4 days, well, then its only 4 days.
  3. My workouts will be a mixture of strength, spinning classes, running, and swimming. Duh.
  4. Since swimming is my weakest link, I will combine swimming with 1 of the others as often as possible.
  5. Since running is tough on my knees, I will limit my running to 2 miles, 2.5 miles tops. I can substitute elliptical or arc trainer for running miles.
  6. I have to bring back Dab the Wussy. There's definitely room for that in any fitness regimen.
  7. When given the opportunity to do something other than swim, spin, or run (e.g. snowshoeing, hiking, kayaking), I will take advantage of that opportunity. Outdoor adventures always trump indoor training.
  8. I will try to teach myself how to swim for real by watching Total Immersion video and doing the drills. If I make any progress, I will consider swimming lessons/professional help.
  9. I am going to eat right, reducing processed carbs as much as possible. Goodbye bagels.
  10. I will keep my own journal and use this blog to track my progress.
  11. If at any point in time between today and May 31, 2008, I decide that this is not fun or not what I want to do, I will either scale back or walk away from it.
That's the plan. There will be no obsessing. There will be plenty of healthy living, a direction, and a realistic and respectable goal. 2008 is going to ROCK.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Waitin for the Nor'easter

For the last few days we've been hearing about the Big Storm supposed to blow in here today/tonight/tomorrow. When will it start? How close will the storm come? Snow or rain or a wintry mix? So while waiting, today was a perfect day to go cross country skiing. A snow storm on Thursday brought about 6-8 inches of snow, which was just enough snow for some good skiing. It was actually a really nice day and I enjoyed the a workout in the great outdoors. Much better than spending time on a treadmill. It did bother my toe a bit, but not enough to make me quit. There's a little cafe at the Winter Park, and after skiing, we all had hot chocolate and snacks. Life is good. Now we can hang at home and see what the Nor'easter brings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tri 2008

I did it. I signed up for a sprint triathlon, May 31, 2008.
1/3 mi swim, 13 mi ride, 3 mi run.

It's been 21 years, maybe 22, since my last triathlon. I was slow back then.
My goal is to finish with at least 1 person behind me.

So over the next 6-8 weeks, I am going to concentrate on swimming.
I also bought a pair of XS biker booties (you wear them over your bike shoes to keep your feet warm and dry) so I can go out for some cold weather rides.

This is what has been going on inside my head:

I must be crazy what have I gotten myself into I have 1 bad knee do I want 2 bad knees why don't I just stick with going out for a nice bike ride and taking some pictures I can't swim for real what if I really finish dead last that would be embarrassing
I am a role model for other women my age (and younger) this will be a great adventure my knees will take it as long as I am smart about it I can still go for nice bike rides and take pictures my husband can take pictures of me when I come across the finish line even if I finish dead last

Monday, December 10, 2007

'Tis the Season

Last night was the Bike Club's annual holiday party, which also serves as our annual business meeting (and business includes election of the club's officers). Usually we have to beg people to volunteer to serve on the Board, but this year we had 2 candidates for president-- that was the only contested position on the Board of Directors. This generated a bit of drama and may have helped bring folks to the party, because the party was sold out. One of our members has a jazz band and his trio performed-- they were excellent! Another member works at a local microbrewery and he brought 2 minikegs of brew (DH seemed to go for it). And another member wrote a goofy skit that was performed-- that was good for a few laughs. The techno-dude collected over 200 photos of our biking adventures so there was a continuous slide show. Then there were prizes and awards. All of the folks who led rides for the club were entered into a contest and I was 1 of 8 who won! Our prize is a kayak tour/adventure on the Hudson River in the spring! I'm psyched-- I think that will be great fun and a great way to not spend a day on a bicycle. So it was all good. Even though there was a winner and a loser in the election, the party seemed to bring everyone together to share and remember that its just a bike club and we want to have fun! This marked the beginning of the "holiday season" celebrations, there is more to come! But this was a great way to start.

On the fitness front, my swim lessons didn't happen because I was the only person that signed up and they needed a minimum of 3 to run the class. So I decided that if I wanted to even consider a triathlon, I was just gonna have to get in the pool and start swimming. So that is what I did! I swam 20 laps (that's only 500 yards) on Saturday for the first time in I can't remember how long. And it actually felt really good! That's what I always say whenever I get in the pool. I have a few options to consider: I am going to watch the Total Immersion videotape and see if I can use that method to try to teach myself how to swim for real . I also thought of someone I can call and ask for help. And I can always take a couple of private lessons. So I still have options if I want to think triathlon in 2008. I'm still not sure. I know I should just sign up for a local triathlon right now and just do it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A 40 Mile Ride

There are more than a few members of the cycle club that ride through the winter. So far, I haven't been one of them-- but I am rethinking that. On Friday I rode 40 miles with 5 other members of the club and it was fantastic! This particular ride shows up on the ride schedule several times during the season, but it typically features the triple challenge-- mileage, terrain and speed. This time it was scheduled as a D ride-- which means SLOW, so I decided to go for it. It was an incredibly beautiful day-- sunny blue skies, temp in the low 40s. I resisted the urge to overdress and I was perfectly comfortable during the entire ride. My toes got a little cold, but not too bad and I think I can fix that.

The ride traveled both sides of the Hudson, crossing at the Bear Mountain Bridge and coming back across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. We were able to ride through West Point Military Academy and stopped at beautiful Trophy Point. We climbed Storm King Mountain and then went screaming downhill into Cornwall. When we crossed the bridge from Newburgh to Beacon, we stopped at The Little Pie Shop where we rewarded ourselves with pipin' hot coffee and yummy pie. It felt great to be outdoors and made me realize that I can keep riding, as long as the roads are free of snow and ice and I dress properly. I have the proper gear-- bike tights, a couple of fleece tops, fleece socks, a balaclava and gloves. I felt like a real warrior. Its easy to go out for a ride in July--but you have to be a real cyclist to ride on the last day of November.

And, I signed up for swimming lessons. They need 3 people to run the class. I'm hoping its a GO. I'll find out on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hanging Around the House

On Thanksgiving Day, we spent the day at my brother and SIL's house. Since they live between here and son #1's college, son #1 went to their house on Wednesday evening. That worked out well. My brother is very into digital photography and son #1 just bought himself a digital SLR, so they went out taking pictures on Thursday morning . After enjoying a spectacular Thanksgiving dinner, we all played Dance Dance Revolution and other games on the Wii. That was hilarious. I improved, but I am not very good at DDR. But I can see how some kids get addicted to it! My nieces were planning on going to bed early so they could get up before the crack of dawn for....... BLACK FRIDAY. I'm sure they were in the mall by 6 am. I am working hard at avoiding any roads that go anywhere near a major shopping destination. The truth is I really need to buy some clothes, but I can't stand the idea of fighting those crowds. Its gonna have to wait.

I am taking advantage of not shopping to take care of things around the house, and of course, spend some time at the gym. On Thursday morning DH and I did the "Pilgrim Pedal." It is a tradition at our gym-- a special 90 minute spin class on Thanksgiving morning. There is a guest instructor..... wow, talk about eye candy at the front of the spinning studio. The number of women taking spin classes would probably skyrocket if he was teaching classes on a regular basis. At the end of the class, we collected our commemorative pilgrim pedal bling-- just what we need around here-- 2 more T-shirts and water bottles! I've been using my new heart rate monitor that calculates calories burned, based on your age, HR, weight. So I sat down at the Thanksgiving table with a 570 calorie deficit! That's no excuse for eating like a pig, but I guess it's better than not having those calories in the bank.

So over the weekend, I guess I will do the usual weekend thing-- cook, laundry, gym, football. I also need to clean out my clothes closet and clean up my desk-- both things I have been avoiding. I'm also trying to contemplate "where do I want to go from here." And I'm thinking about a triathlon. More on this in future posts over the next few weeks, but if I am serious, then I need to seriously considert taking some swimming lessons and a new session is starting the week of December 3. I may take them anyway, because fitness swimming would be a wonderful activity to add to my fit life, even if I never do a triathlon. Lots to think about.... do I even have a bathing suit for the gym?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Big Pharma

Thank you Leslie and Irene for pointing to this video.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Good Week

This week was definitely a step in the right direction. I ate better food and I got to the gym for a variety of activities. I feel better, too. Part of it is just feeling better about myself because I know I am doing the right thing, but part of it is physiological. Small changes can make a big difference in my energy level, which in turn fosters a positive attitude. So yeah, a little bit of forward momentum has me fired up!

This week also featured 2 doses of live music! I went to see Bruce Springsteen on Thursday evening, and Susan Tedeschi on Saturday night. The Boss was what I was expecting, and the man always delivers. Susan Tedeschi was much more than I expected and very exciting. She is a blues singer and a fairly accomplished guitar player. I was pleasantly surprised at her guitar skills (as an aside, her husband, Derek Trucks, is one of the best guitar players EVER). She came out wearing this spaghetti strap flapper dress and stiletto heels! She played a combination of her own music and some wonderful covers. At times, she sounded like Janis and some times, like Bonnie Raitt. Overall, it was fantastic! It was at a 1500 seat restored theatre practically around the corner, so it was easy, too. I took some photos and considering I couldn't use a flash, some of them came out great.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm Back

It has been a while, like 6 weeks, since I have posted. Everything is OK, but for a combination of reasons, I haven't had the time, or inclination to blog. I guess I feel like my life of late has been not just ordinary, but downright boring. But apathy born of boredom takes on a life of its own, and life becomes even more boring and less blogworthy. Blogging also keeps me accountable to myself, at the very least. So it is time to get my blogger mojo back on track.

I have been struggling with consistency on both sides of the equation-- food and fitness. I am trying to recommit and as part of that, I am trying to define some new goals. I have 2 major goals in mind, but they are probably mutually exclusive. Each one will force me to focus my fitness in different directions, so I have to pick one. Both are events that are scheduled for summer 2008, but it is not too soon to start working toward these goals. Both represent significant challenge and will require serious effort and a work/fitness ethic. More on these challenges in days to come, as I work thru this choice.

So here I am blogging during a plenary session of a conference on energy and sustainability. Did you know that 5% of the world's population lives in the US, but the US uses 25% of the world's energy? Only 7% of that comes from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass). Another 8% is nuclear, but the remaining 83% comes from fossil fuels-- oil, natural gas and coal. The US uses 20 million barrels of oil per day! In the last 2 days I have learned about growing willow as a biomass energy crop, turning fry oil into biodiesel, how to run a "no waste" event on a college campus, and the growth of solar power in the US. As much as I am learning and enjoying this meeting, I've hit my limit of sitting and listening for the day. So I am sitting but not listening. I may have more to say about this issue and this conference, but right now it is time to duck out of the meeting and hit the fitness center.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


My gym has a hiking club which has expanded in scope-- it is now an "Outdoor Fitness Club." In addition to hiking, we have gone kayaking and today was the first Paintball Event! What an experience! Here are my observations and experiences from my first day of paintball.
  1. It is not cheap, but $50 did pay for a whole day of entertainment.
  2. Getting hit with a paintball hurts. In fact, I have one bruise on my calf (from friendly fire).
  3. If you're not going to go for it, it's not as much fun. Make sure you purchase plenty of paintballs AND rent a camouflage jumpsuit.
  4. It's a man's game. There are some women, but not many.
  5. Fat people do not play paintball.
  6. Testosterone definitely fuels more aggressive play-- these guys were hurling paintball hand grenades into enemy fortifications.
  7. You play several squirmishes, each one on a different battlefield. I enjoyed this part of it the most, having to develop different strategies to "stay alive" on different terrain.
  8. Although there were some attempts to develop a unified plan, it's mostly small "cells" heading in different directions and trying to avoid getting ambushed (e.g. almost but not quite organized chaos).
  9. I am a fairly defensive paintballer. I ran for cover, tried to find enemy locations and waited for them to expose themselves. With all the testosterone-driven men trying to be paintball heroes, this was a good strategy. I conserved ammo and had a few good "kills."
  10. Safety is taken VERY SERIOUSLY (as it should be). Helmets/goggles are required and if you as much as touch them while on the playing field, the refs yell at you immediately.
  11. I don't know if this really qualified as "outdoor fitness," but it definitely go my heart pounding!
  12. I would definitely do this again. Not next weekend, but definitely again.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Belated 50th Birthday Present

When you turn 50, you get a very special gift from your physician-- an order for a colonoscopy. I have been putting off receiving this very special gift for over a year. I finally took care of it. Let me just say that the procedure itself is nothing 'cause they put you to sleep. The prep for it, on the other hand, is horrendous. You know how people say you quickly forget the pain of childbirth and then "sign up" for another one? Well, the same is not true of colonoscopy. I won't forget the misery of colonoscopy prep, and I won't be signing up for another one any time soon. Luckily, the gastroenterologist told me I have a lovely colon, and gave me a 5 year pass.

While we're on the topic of anaesthesia, ever wonder what the doctors talk about when they put you under? I had an interesting experience when I had a C-section. I had a spinal, so I was awake, but the anaesthesiologist was talking to the other docs like I wasn't even there. He talked about what a bitch his wife was because she wouldn't let him go hunting and spent too much of his money. My doctor finally told him to quit it. Maybe it wouldn't have been any different if I had general anaesthesia because this doctor had a personality disorder, but it left me wondering whatr these docs talk about it (Maybe I'm just paranoid).

Monday, September 24, 2007


The last few weeks have been rough. A few days after my MIL's funeral, we had a toilet back-up in the house and cause a nasty little flood. That turned out to be a broken pipe between the house and the septic fields (read between the lines: big $). Once that was fixed, I went out of town for a meeting for a few days. It was actually a relief to get away from home for a bit. There were fewer events or people around me that had the potential to trigger an overwhelming feeling of sadness. And working showers and toilets 24/7.

So now I am trying to get myself focused on being ordinary, getting back into our routines. Yesterday I went down to the track and ran 4 miles. In the late afternoon I made a big pot of minestrone soup. I watched baseball and football games. I got some laundry done. Yeah, pretty ordinary. The last few weeks have been an excuse for eating whatever came my way, mostly cookies and bagels. Time to get my nutrition back in synch with what my body needs (and it ain't cookies and bagels). So this week I plan to continue getting back on track, making the time to workout,
focusing on ordinary......except for the colonoscopy I have scheduled for Friday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My mother-in-law died last week. The funeral was Tuesday. She was a wonderful woman. Everyone who came to the funeral knows what kind of person she was, but I couldn't stand the idea of a stranger writing and reading her eulogy. So I did it. DH spoke first and thanked some special people who made the last few months of her life much easier and more comfortable. Then I spoke about Life with M, the Mother-In-Law.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the Dr. Phil Show, maybe you’ve seen an episode featuring several women talking about their horrible in-laws, especially their mothers-in-law. At the beginning of each of these stories, there is always a video that takes you inside the lives of the involved parties, so you can have true insight into their issues and maybe judge for yourself who is at fault. Over the past few days, I have been thinking about my life with M, the mother-in-law, and those memories came together into a video that I produced in my head. I want to share with you the script for this video, which is entitled, How Lucky Can a Girl Get.

The first scene is at a Passover Seder 22 years ago, when DH first brings me home to meet his mom. We all know how awkward that can be, but somehow she finds just the right balance of reaching out to me without making me feel uncomfortable. She is constantly popping up out of her chair like a jack-in-the-box, jumping between the kitchen and the dining room. At the time, I think it is a little odd.

The next scene is shortly after DH and I were married, and M and I have a little “heart-to-heart.” So, is this the scene where she lays down the law, and tells me how she expects me to behave. Yes it is. She tells me that she considers me her daughter and to please call her “mom.” And that pretty much sets the tone for our relationship over the next 21 years.

The middle of my video is a montage of special occasions, mom’s visits to NY, our visits to Florida, and family gatherings. This part of the video features 2 little boys growing up with their nana. There are stories being told, and a surprise drawer filled with small gifts, and the sound of laughter. There are birthdays with lots and lots of ice cream. There is always a phone call before we go down to Florida to determine what small tonnage of food needs to be purchased. There are many dinners and she is still the jack-in-the-box (but by now it doesn’t seem odd). At one of these dinners, mom serves the now notorious vegetable medley. We try, but it is inedible.

In the next scene, I drive her to Newburgh to visit with her friend J. We have lunch before we leave. When we arrive, J puts this giant hero sandwich on a plate in front of her. Not wanting to offend J, she eats the entire thing, followed by (you guessed it) a huge bowl of ice cream. I sit there and snicker.

I don’t want you to think that Life with M the Mother-in-Law was totally a bed of roses. The next scene features an episode that occurred a little over a year ago. She and son #1 go shopping, and when they are done, she asks son #1, “is there a place nearby where we can buy some refreshments?” When they come home, mom is carrying a huge bucket of ice cream. I am a little angry with her, because I do not want to be tempted to eat any ice cream. So there you have the truth. I am angry because she had the nerve to bring home a bucket of ice cream. I don’t know if she senses my anger, but she resolves the issue by eating most of it.

The last scene in the video is actually a photograph that I found on my computer a few days ago. It is a picture of son #1 and son #2 with both of their grandmothers. It was taken 2 years ago when son #1, son #2 and I went down to visit them and the 5 of us had dinner together. Over the years, M’s magic reached out to so many people, including my family. My family became her family. So tell me, how lucky can a girl get.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Blogger is playing games with me! The photos I uploaded didn't "stick." Let me try again.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


My new Canon Elph is small enough to put in your pocket and take along for the day. And I have been doing just that, taking pictures during my everyday adventures. I also downloaded Picasa, which is Google's answer to Flickr. It is also a complete photo management system with basic photo editing capabilities. This combination has given me the motivation to clean out (delete delete delete) and organize my photo collection. So with no particular theme or plan, here are a few photos that I have rediscovered.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

On the Edge, or Ledge

On Sunday, I went hiking with my brother in Harriman State Park. We try to do this a few times a year, and neither of us had gone hiking all summer. It was a perfect day. We picked a hike that was described as "strenuous," featuring 5 climbs including Pingyp Mt. Pingyp is one of the steepest climbs in the park and a good part of it involves scrambling/climbing over a granite ledge that seemed almost vertical. OK, it wasn't El Capitan, but it was a little scary (I think my big brother was actually a little bit freaked out, more than he would admit). We didn't know this beforehand and once we started the ascent, there was no turning around. So up we went. Now pulling yourself over huge granite rocks when you are only 5 ft tall is hard work. My little legs just can't reach as far as the average person! But I never felt like I couldn't do it, I just knew I had to work harder and I wasn't too proud to crawl. So we made it, over Pingyp Mt. and 4 other climbs over 7 miles. Yay for me and big brother! but neither one of us brought a camera to document our feat. We both have digital cameras but neither one of us wanted to carry it. We both decided that in this day and age, this is truly ridiculous and that we both need to purchase smaller cameras. I didn't waste anytime, the next day I bought a Canon 850 Elph. There will be no more hikes without adequate photodocumentation (not that I would have had the nerve to reach for a camera while climbing this ledge). Here are some more pictures I found of some other hearty hikers on their way up Pingyp Mt. It gives you a little bit of the idea.
(are those dogs or mountain goats?)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Freecycling Has Set Me Free

A few months ago, I joined the local Freecycling group. I would check out the listings from time to time, but it was barely on my radar. Then son #1 left for college and I started the archealogical dig in his closet, unearthing his outgrown, forgotten and and generally unloved belongings. Well, thanks to freecycle, many of them are finding new homes and I couldn't be happier. This week I recycled 2 lava lamps, 2 pairs of snow boots and 4 zippered 3 ring binders. I have found this experience to be quite liberating! I am slowly beginning to find my way out from under the pile of not necessarily clutter, but accumulated belongings that fill the closets. Its easier to stick something into the closet than to 1) admit that you probably should not have bought it in the first place 2) get rid of it. Of course you could keep shoving all the somethings in a closet and then have a tag sale. We have done that and the cash in the pocket was not insignificant. But at this point in my life I can't stand looking at a vast pile of somethings that we might sell one day. It was much more satisfying to give these items to someone who can use them now and get a lovely and sincere thank you in return. Yes indeed, freecycling has set me free.

Monday, August 27, 2007

GSIU Weeks #33 and 34

Gotta Step it Up these past 2 weeks has been about finding balance and taking a few steps back. In the 2 weeks between the kids coming home from camp and son #1 going off to college, I spent time at home. I cooked meals for the 4 of us to share. I took son #1 shopping (multiple times), we went out for dinner, we went to a Yankee game, I nagged son #1 to clean out his room (I was not too successful on this one). I hemmed 3 pairs of pants, I washed and folded many loads of laundry (how many T-shirts does a college kid need?), I packed his clothes. I didn't worry about when I was going to the gym ( I didn't go) and I took off a couple of days from work to get everything done without being all stressed out. It was the right thing to do and it felt good. Son #2 will be back in school next week and I will be back at the gym and finding ways to Step it Up.

Cutting the Cord

On Saturday, DH and I deposited son #1 in his dorm room at the University of Delaware. It was a loooooong day. The traffic on I-95 was horrendous so it took us longer than expected to get there. When we finally arrived and got out of the car, it was 97 degrees. I kid you not. We carried all his belongings up 2 flights of stairs to his hot and stuffy room. His roommate (who seems like a perfectly normal friendly young man) had already arrived and gotten set up, so he and his family were able to step back and let us cram more stuff into their little room. He had to “gather” with his freshman family at 5:00, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to help him get things together. It was probably better this way, so I didn’t have the opportunity to linger and avoid the inevitable final hug and goodbye. So at 4:55, the cord was cut. Holy shit, where has the time gone? It can’t possibly be 13 years since I had to bribe him with chocolate milk to get him out of bed on his first day of kindergarten. Or over 18 years since the obstetrician said “it’s a boy!” and I said “I know” because even though I didn’t know, I knew.

I expected to cry a good portion of the ride home, but I didn’t. The cord has been stretching tighter and gotten very frayed, so the final cut was less painful than I anticipated. But despite being exhausted when we finally got home, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking of all the things I could have done for him, but didn’t have the time, or wondering what he was doing, and just thinking about how exciting this is. And I just plain miss him. There is definitely a little hole, a piece missing somewhere in my soul. I don’ think that will ever go away, I just have to get better at dealing with it. And I know my DH is experiencing something different. As much as he loves son #1, and I’m sure misses having him around, there was no cord connecting them.

I was fine on Sunday, maybe a little tired from not getting too much sleep. In the evening, I sent an email off to him, suggesting that he put his trunk in his closet instead of under his bed. Even though the cord has been cut, I’m still his mother!

Monday, August 20, 2007


One of the members of the bike club, Judy, has a home on a beautiful lake in nearby Putnam County. Every year she hosts a bike club event at her home. On Saturday morning, we had rides for all levels which started at the nearby middle school and ended at Judy's house. We ask for $10 and the club picks up the rest of the costs for all the food, drinks, snacks, and paper goods. This year the party fell on the same dates as the anniversary of Woodstock, and so that became the theme. We called this event Judystock. Now, the demographics of the club are definitely skewed toward the older end, so we had more than a few members who were actually at Woodstock. And those of us who were a little too young (myself included) certainly grew up with the music and the attitude. We are the Woodstock generation. So for a few hours, we listened to the music, wore tie-dyed T-shirts, played in the summer sun, and ate some good food! There was no mud and no psychodelics but nobody seemed to mind. We had fun and spent a few hours away from all our adult responsibilities. I hung around til the bitter end, helping Judy clean up and pack up all the leftovers. I took home a bag of food which fed my family that evening, so I was able to stretch out the feeling of being a free spirit for a little while longer. It left me with a laid back feeling that lasted through Sunday. I didn't rush off anywhere, not even to the gym. I spent the day taking care of things around the house, cooking, reading, and just not getting all wound up about having to get things done. It was rather pleasant!

Monday, August 13, 2007

GSIU Week #32

Week #32 brought me to Hamilton NY for a 2 day meeting. I decided to drive up there a day early and bring my bike. When I got there, I stopped at the bike shop in town and asked for some guidance in planning a ride. The owner explained that Hamilton is at the top of a valley. The roads heading north, east and west bring you into the hills. He suggested a 20 mile route that went mostly south. I told him I didn't mind hills, but he really didn't know those roads very well, anyway. I decided that I did not bring my bike 190 miles to ride a flat 20 miles. So when I got on my bike, I headed east, into the hills, with beautiful farms and vistas. I watched my heart rate climb as I climbed and then I got to enjoy the wind as I descended into town. Then I rode the flat 20 and it was a really beautiful ride and it wasn't all that flat anyway! I must admit that I had an ice cream cone when I was done, but at least I stepped it up by embracing the hills. It was a great 27 miles.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Frittata

I belong to the Purple Dragon Food Coop. Every 2 weeks, I pick up a basket of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. This time of year, most of it is local and terrific and plentiful. So July's Local Food Challenge has been easy. In addition to using local food, I challenged myself to prepare some new foods, to dig into some cookbooks and come up with some new ways to eat all these wonderful foods, and I discovered The Frittata. I had to make a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a skillet that could go in the oven, but it was worth the investment because I am in love with The Frittata. The first one had loads of greens like swiss chard and cilantro and fresh tomatoes and onions and wonderful salty feta cheese. The second one had roasted potatoes and then roasted vegetables like peppers and zucchini and a custard with cream cheese and then cheddar cheese and olives. It wasn't "light" but it was outrageously delicious. DH and I ate frittata for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I put a few slices in the freezer that will find their way into my lunchbag. The great thing about The Frittata is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand and probably any cheese, too. Change up the spices to give it a different accent. It's a vegetarian's local food dream come true. Recipes abound, just ask google and you too can come to love The Frittata.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Note from DH

DH went out of town for a few days. He left me a little note, stuck to a package of toilet paper. It said,
"I'll miss you. Here is toilet paper for our bathroom. The newspapers go out tomorrow. Love."

What a guy. How did I ever get along in this world without him. Obviously, without toilet paper and never remembering the recycling. Seriously, one of the reasons I love him is because he is just the right mix of romantic and pragmatic.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Ordinary Thursday

Thursday is my day off. It was a rather ordinary day. I went to the gym in the morning and then ran errands. Errands included picking up the produce from my organic food coop. What a lovely sight! an overflowing basket of fruits and vegetables in a vast array of colors. After I got it home, I set about cleaning out the frig and then deciding what to cook. I made 3 bean salad, Caribbean carrot soup and My First Frittata. I chopped up 2 tomatoes and a big pile of swiss chard. Added some garlic, cilantro and grated feta cheese. Oh, and eggs. Wow, it was really delicious. This was a vegetarian dinner done right! and I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow. It was in keeping with the spirit of the Local Food Challenge. Most of the vegetables were grown locally and all the ingredients were in my house-- and I consider that local.

Other ordinary events and errands included getting DH to take 2 big bags of clothes to the Salvation Army. There were 75 articles of clothing, yes I made a list. So, even though it all went in one week, I think I should get "credit" for at least 5 weeks for the 7 Things Project. I'm not being greedy, I didn't ask for 10 weeks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Things I Want and Don't Want

One of the perks of working in midtown Manhattan is lunchtime in Bryant Park. Today was a great day to sit there and engage in some serious people-watching. A woman walked by sporting a pair of pink headphones. The first thought that popped into my head, was “wow, I would like some pink headphones, too.” Second thought was “well, what else would I like?” Third thought was much more revealing: “don’t want that much, but there are many things I definitely do not want.” So here is my list of Things I Want and Things I don’t Want as Seen in Bryant Park at Lunchtime.

Things I Want
1. Pink headphones
2. Slick shiny new laptop
3. Native American friend
4. Lunch at Bryant Park Grill
5. Knowing how to play chess

Things I Don’t Want
1. Big overstuffed tote bag with name and logo of a large corporate entity
2. Pants that are neither full length nor capri length
3. Friend that does not speak more than 10 words during entire lunchtime in the park
4. Husband wearing socks and sandals
5. Bra with clear plastic straps to wear with tank top
6. Very high high heels of any type, but especially with animal prints
7. Teeny tiny but fashionable handbag
8. Very large sunglasses
9. Sandwich from Subway

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boom Boom Tap

Have you seen Under Armour's new commercial? The company has started a new marketing campaign, nicknamed Boom Boom Tap, directed at what they feel is an untapped resource-- team girls. The commercial features female high school and college athletes in a wide range of team sports-- softball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer.

On one hand I love this commercial. I love seeing women involved in sports, strong and fit and competitive. Title IX was enacted when I was 16, so I grew up with little or no emphasis on women's sports. Neither my parents nor my older brother were especially athletic, so I had little encouragement to get involved. I never played on an organized team. Aside from the health and fitness benefits for women, I think playing sports, especially team sports, teaches girls incredibly important skills and life lessons. Teamwork, being coached, yes that is important, but so is PLAYING TO WIN, developing a competitive edge. That's what I find so appealing about this commercial. It's shows women playing to win.

On the other hand, the commercial features almost entirely tall, attractive white girls. There are few women of color and no women carrying a few extra pounds or "vertically challenged." Yes, I know, its all about marketing and featuring real female athletes is less likely to sell skin tight athletic wear. But it sure would be nice if Under Armour would sponsor some girl's teams from inner city high schools and put them in their commercials.

I was in my local sporting goods store a few days ago and I did notice that Under Armour products have a much bigger presence in the women's clothing section than even a few months ago. I'm sure this has everything to do with Boom Boom Tap and fall sports on the horizon. It's OK with me, the less Nike I see the happier I am.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday Misc.

  1. My heart rate monitor died, so I bought a new one. This one measures kcal burned. For some reason, I really like knowing this number, to see how high I can take it! I wore it when I went out for a run (2 miles, 181 kcal) and I wore it when I went out for a club ride yesterday. This is the first time I wore a heart rate monitor while cycling. We rode 29 miles and I burned 880 calories. After hearing that number, one of my cycling buddies felt justified in going home and eating anything she wanted. Dangerous. Very. Dangerous. Probably more important was that I discovered that my average heart rate was quite a bit lower than I would have guessed, which means I am getting my ass in shape. So far this season I have ridden about 550 miles, which really is not all that much, but it seems to be paying off. Yesterday’s ride also felt easy, like I could have ridden faster or longer.
  1. I am still doing the little things to try to lessen my environmental impact. I don’t use a paper towel to dry my hands and I try not to use paper towels in the kitchen. I bought a body scrubber thingie that holds a bar of soap so I don’t have to use bath gels that come in plastic bottles. I try to use less of everything that comes in plastic bottles, and I am buying the biggest bottles I can find of all those things. I don’t turn on the hot water as often and I am trying to take shorter showers. I pack a cloth napkin in my lunch bag and a real fork. I keep a tote bag in the car so I can avoid plastic bags. I use only cold water in the washing machine and I try to run full loads as much as possible. I shopped at Mrs. Greens and bought grains and beans from the bulk bins. On Saturday I had to run some errands and I contemplated taking my bike, but ultimately I got in the car. I just didn’t have enough time to get everything done. But, maybe another time I will. DH and I went to a BBQ/party yesterday that less than a mile from our house and we walked! There are always people out walking, even though our neighborhood is not walking-friendly. I’m so used to seeing everything from a bike, it was actually quite pleasant to walk down the road for a change.
  1. In my quest to get rid of stuff (7 Things Project) I joined my local Freecycle and I already freecycled 1 thing—an iTrip for an iPod Mini. My Mini died and I replaced it with a Nano, so I had no use for the iTrip. It has been promised to an autistic boy who loves music!

Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday DH and I led rides for the club. We started in the same place, and we both made our way to the town of Armonk. His ride took the long way home, adding 6 miles to the total. So my ride was 24 miles and his was 30. In addition to more miles and more hills , his version had more speed. So when we set out on this adventure, he rode at the front and I happily rode at the back with the slower riders (that was fine with me). And along the way, I picked up his stragglers, 2 people fixing a flat, and 3 or 4 who had enough climbing by the time they got to Armonk and wanted to take the short route back. Both rides were VERY hilly which was why they were lower mileage. There are 4 "evil hills," the kind where your legs are burning even if you get off your bike and walk up. Then you start to feel like you are going uphill even when you are on flat road. The ride was very challenging for some of the riders in my group, and a couple of them were complaining about their shoulders hurting, probably from pulling on the climbs to try to get your upper body to do some of the work. That's why cyclists need to think about core strength and not just legs to be strong riders.

I did this ride about a month ago and it beat the crap out of me, the hills won. This time it was
a little easier, but still a challenging ride. I might have to do it one more time this season, so I can come out the winner. If you want to be a better cyclist (in my neighborhood), you have to take on the hills 'cause there ain't no way to avoid them. DH says I obsess over the hills, to just get out there and ride. I think that is good advice, so I'm going to make this my personal Dab the Wussy Challenge, to embrace the hills because they suck and they make my legs hurt and the sweat run into my eyes and because when you get to the top, its a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kick A$$ Tour de Spin

During the Tour de France, all spin classes are designed to mimic the profile of that day's stage. Yesterday the tour rode from Waregem, Belgium to Compiegne, France. It was mostly flat, with a very long category 4 hill (that's the easiest climb, with category 1 going up mountains in the Pyrenees). There were also 3 sprint lines. This profile was perfect for an endurance (75 minutes) class. We rode a flat road for most of it, and really picked up the pace for 3 minutes when we were approaching the sprint lines. Then we climbed that category 4 hill, for 13 minutes. In the end we pushed for the finish line, to try to win the stage! This was an absolutely kick a$$ spin class. Riding hard on a flat road can be tougher than going up and down killer hills. It was relentless! It was Dab the Wussy for sure. I forgot to bring a towel, and we had only been riding for a few minutes when I realized I needed a towel way more than I needed my shirt, so I took off my shirt and rode in my sports bra (something I very rarely do). I produced a man-sized puddle of sweat despite the towel/shirt. We were all wiped when we were done. It was totally awesome. What a great feeling to bring it and deliver it. I'm ready for the mountains, whatever spin class brings, I'm riding it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seven Things Project

I found this website, Seven Things Project, written by Earthchick. She pledged to get rid of 7 things every week, for 1 year. But no throwing things away. She gave them away, donated or recycled them. Her year ended on 7/7/07. She hasn't posted for a week or so, but as of late June, she got rid of 359 "things." It was an experiment in owning less, buying less, needing less, and wanting less.

I am not a saver. And yet, sometimes when I open a closet I can't believe all the "things" that are packed away in it. It's just that it's easier to stick something in a closet than to contemplate how to get rid of it. So, I am going to embrace the Seven Things Project and start getting rid of everything that is cluttering my life. I can so do this. DH and I put aside clothes that we no longer wear (or no longer fit) to give to the Salvation Army. Right now we have amassed a tower of clothes that, if I donate 7 items a week, I'm probably good for 10 weeks!

To get things started, last week I sent a pile of children's books to a Bookcrosser who needs them for some sort of charity event. This week, I shall begin to attack the tower of clothes!

Monday, July 09, 2007

GSIU Week #27

I stepped it up this past week by riding 90 miles. I took advantage of the July 4th holiday and rode 35 miles with the Ladies of C. On Friday evening, DH and I rode the Friday Fling (show up at 6 pm, break into groups based on how many miles you're going to ride, be back before dark, then go to dinner at a local eatery) for another 17 miles. Yesterday, the Ladies of C went out again, this time with some gentlemen friends, for a really nice 38 mile ride. It moved faster than my usual pace, which was good for me. Not only did I have to push the mileage, but I had to push myself to keep up with the group (I was still at the back most of the way). I am getting stronger and more confident. I am motivated to eat better and as a result my weight is starting to come down. I hope to use the momentum from this past week moving forward.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Big Foot

Over the last week, I have been thinking about my environmental footprint, and quite frankly, I feel like Big Foot. We live in the suburbs and have to drive everywhere. We have not 2 but 3 cars. Our house is not small, and heating and cooling the house requires big hunks of energy. We are very plugged in: 4 computers, 3 TVs, Tivo, Playstation, 3 iPods, 4 cell phones, you get the idea. We do make the effort to do somethings right: setback thermostats, CFLs everywhere, recycling as much as possible, again you get the idea. But the last few days I have really opened my eyes to the resources I consume without even thinking about it. Everything is disposable. I am finding I have to be incredibly vigilant to decrease my footprint-- it's not easy! But I am definitely putting more thought into consuming less resources. I have adopted the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) philosophy. I am trying to think about combining errands so I don't have to drive as much. I'm a vegetarian. Every time I put a disposable container of any kind into the garbage I try to think of how I could have avoided using it. I am trying to use less of everything that comes in plastic containers so I don't have to buy them as often. I'm not ready for really big changes, but I am trying to make small changes that are easy to live with. I'm not sure how far I will go with this, but I would like to think that even small changes can add up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Local Food Challenge

I belong to an organic food co-op. I get a basket of food every 2 weeks. The co-op buys the food from farms near (blueberries from New Jersey and far (bananas from Ecuador) and distributes it to the various "pods." I'm not sure how many pods there are in the co-op, but each pod has 15 members. Each pod is responsible for dividing the food into 15 shares. In our pod, members volunteer to do this job (you save $15 if you pack). Anyway, you cannot pick and choose what you want, you have to take whatever the co-op buys that week. I don't usually buy much other produce. It takes me about 2 weeks to use all the food. I am facing this local food challenge without the opportunity to shop at a local farmer's market. So, I have decided that in addition to the local food I get in my co-op order, I am going to concentrate on using up food that I have in the house-- can't get much more local than that. Time to cook all the chicken breasts in the freezer and add salsa to the tofu scramble and make salads with barley or wheatberries. I am going to cook and pack lunches for DH and I. Eating out will be more of a special treat.

The most recent co-op order did include blueberries from NJ and kale, lettuce, mushrooms, and yellow squash from Pennsylvania. Those are my local foods. Been working on the lettuce with salads, and last night I made some wonderful blueberry pancakes for dinner!

This morning I rode with "Ladies of C." There's a group of us that are 40+ years old, and we are all slow C riders. We rode 35 miles this morning and it went down pretty easy. It felt good!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Misc Monday

This past weekend featured picture perfect weather and the opportunity to ride 50 miles! On Saturday I led a 20 mile D ride for the bike club. I had 20 people show up which is great for the club but difficult to lead. I had a few "cowboys" that were looking for a faster ride, so after a few miles, they took off. Then I had one lady who had to walk up the first hill and decided to turn around on the 2nd hill. I was still left with a pretty large group of varying abilities, so I ended up splitting the ride, sending the faster riders off and finishing the ride with 9 of the slower riders. That worked out pretty well.

Yesterday was the bike club's July 4th event, which featured bike rides for all levels (A, B+, B, C+, C and D) followed by a BBQ-potluck picnic. I found plenty of room at the rear of the 30 mile C ride and a big appetite when we got back to the picnic. DH came along, he did the C+ ride for 45 miles and I was happy to have him there and to introduce him to my bike riding buddies. The potluck buffet featured salads of all types and I was able to endulge in a deeply satisfying vegetarian feast. DH told a friend about the event, and he showed up on a $300 bike, took off on the B ride (50 miles and pretty fast), discovered he had a busted axle which made it impossible to shift into his lowest gears, ended up walking up the bigger hills, and had a great time! Some people just have athleticism in their DNA. I have to work at it.

This was week #26, which means the year is half over! I haven't kept true to my "Gotta Step it Up" pledge, and I am trying to resurrect that theme. I did Step it Up this week, mostly by trying to increase my accountability, writing stuff down, and being more conscious of my choices. The result was better choices, a spin class, and the feeling that I am back on track.

The Change is making me a little crazy. I saw the gynecologist last week for my yearly checkup and she asked me if I "needed anything" to help with the symptoms. I didn't even ask what "anything" meant, I just replied that I didn't think I was there yet. Now I wonder if I am there and if I at least need to talk about some of the options that modern medicine has to offer. If only she could install a switch. I would be all over that "off" button in a hot flash!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Low Impact Lifestyle

I recently stumbled across 2 blogs that I found very thought provoking, both having to do with sustainable living /low impact lifestyles. The first, No Impact Man, is written by a man who has challenged himself to reduce his environmental impact to zero for 1 year through a series of serious lifestyle changes: no electricity, no car, not buying anything new, recycling, etc. The second, Living Plastic Free in 2007, is written by a woman who has pledged not to buy anything plastic for 1 year. Both blogs are fascinating reading, and of course I followed a whole bunch of links to other blogs and ended up spending a couple of hours reading about low impact living. So I am somewhat inspired to reduce my environmental footprint. Here is what I did today toward that goal:
1) I presented my own traveling coffee mug at the coffee cart this morning. I know, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but this simple act kept 1 styrofoam cup, 1 paper bag and a couple of coffee-stained napkins out of the trash pile.
2) And I have also decided to join Crunchy Chicken's Local Food Month Challenge which starts July 1. Here's the basic premise:

During the month of July you're going to increase your consumption of locally and sustainably grown food and decrease your consumption of imported and packaged food.

I don't think I will be making my own soymilk, but local produce is so abundant during the summer months that this should be a relatively easy way to get started. And with the kids GFTS, I look forward to preparing mostly vegetarian meals from fresh local foods.

Monday, June 25, 2007


1. Son #1 graduated on Friday night. When the graduates marched in, I almost lost it, almost started crying, but I held it together. It's kinda weird, being on the other side. I don't have vivid memories of my HS graduation, but I do remember that I had very similar feelings to what my son has expressed-- that it's alot of hype and that the ceremonies are fairly meaningless. I wasn't unwilling to go, and I knew it was a big deal for my parents, so I did go and I'm sure there are at least 100 pictures (slides) in the family archive to mark the occasion (My dad took pictures galore, all the time, anytime-- I can just imagine if he had lived during the era of the digital camera). So son #1 did the same thing, even coming home to do 5 hours of school service to earn the privilege of attending graduation after the alarm clock fiasco. And my mother and DH and I were able to swell with pride and admire the man he has become. I wasn't expecting to feel this emotional, but it was truly one of the most joyous moments of my life as a parent.

2. After graduation, son #1 went to a party, an all-night event. He called us at 5:45 to let us know he was leaving to drive back to camp because he needed to be there at 8:00. While I was a little concerned about him driving after very little or no sleep, I had to admire his sense of responsibility. I also realized that we have to trust him, his judgements, because he is heading off to college and we won't be involved in these decisions anymore. So joyous moment quickly followed by difficult moment when I knew I had to let go a little more.

3. My mom went back to Florida yesterday afternoon, but not before we indulged in some "retail therapy." My mom is a champion shopper, especially on someone else's buck! We did have fun and I did buy some clothes to fill in some holes in my wardrobe.

4. When I got back from taking mom to the airport, the house was awful quiet. Yes my kids are Gone For The Summer (GFTS). And in celebration, I opened a jar of mayonnaise. Both of my kids hate mayonnaise, they going running at the sight or smell of it. But with them GFTS, I made cole slaw with real dressing with mayonnaise instead of an asian-style slaw with an oil/vinegar dressing.

5. I found this awesome website-- Vegetarian Mealplans. I haven't prepared any of these recipes yet, but they seem to be perfect for weekday meals. I'm already thinking about tempeh sloppy joes!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back to Basics

First an update on the Montrose 19. Our little suburban school district has made it into the NY Times once again. The students were arraigned and pleaded Not Guilty to the felony charge of placing a false bomb. They are barred from graduation ceremonies this evening. Son #1 came home and did 5 hours of school service in order to regain the privilege of attending his graduation. The principal did get all of the senior students into the auditorium and had a conversation with them about the situation. He did allow them to express their anger and although he will not budge on the issue of them attending graduation, he did listen to suggestions about how they could acknowledge them. I was glad he was at least willing to listen and didn't just lecture them about "appropriate behavior."

Although the events of this past week haven't made it any easier to get back to basics, I have been struggling the past month or so to get all the pieces working together. I have eaten too many bagels! I have not done any strength training for 2 weeks! I have used lack of time to prepare food as an excuse for eating poorly. I have ridden my bike and run some miles, but I haven't been able to do anything consistently. But there's no use punishing myself with negative thoughts. Every morning presents a new opportunity to get it right, and yesterday was one of those days. I went to the gym and purchased another 12 pack of personal training sessions. I then had MPT (My Personal Trainer) beat the crap out of me in 30 minutes. After not lifting for 2 weeks, I am paying for it today. I am sore everywhere. Very. sore. My kids are both now officially GFTS (gone for the summer) so it will be easier to spend time taking care of myself. Son #1 is actually coming home today just for the day because he is graduating from high school, but that won't put a dent in my lifestyle. It does a bunch of other things, like fill me with pride and cause me to pause and reflect, but I've already written about that.

My mom is visiting (because of son #1's graduation), so in the late afternoon we went to the gourmet supermarket and then I did some cooking. My mom never tasted collards so I cooked up a whole bunch of beautiful bright green collards with onions and craisins and toasted pine nuts. I made this gazpacho for my vegetarian self, adding scallions and fresh cilantro and some red pepper too. I made salmon steaks with a teriyaki glaze for the meateaters and we had a delicious dinner. Mom liked the collards.

Black Bean Gazpacho
  • (2) 15 oz. cans black beans
  • 4 peeled and finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1 quart tomato juice
  • 2 peeled, seeded, finely chopped cukes
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • salt, pepper, and sugar

Drain and rinse the beans. Add garlic, vinegar, lime juice, tomato juice, cukes, tomatoes, and onions. Add whatever other vegetables you like in your gazpacho. Blend and chill.

Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar.

To speed up prep, put balck beans, tomato juice and canned tomatoes in the frig.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Senior Prank Gone Bad

This has been a very interesting week in our school district. My son is a senior and will be graduating this Friday. Since he had no final or Regents exams, he went to work last Saturday (he works at a camp in Pennsylvania). Before he left, he contributed $5 to a "senior prank" which involved placing 100 alarm clocks in the school, all set to go off at 9:15 am on the last day of classes. What he didn't know was that the prank involved breaking into the school on Sunday night to hide the clocks. Well, that's when things started to go bad. The kids set off an alarm, the police showed up, and when they saw alarm clocks duct taped to the walls, they had to call the bomb squad. In the end, 19 seniors were arrested (those that were in the building as well as the "lookouts") and they are being charged with a felony. Their day in court is today. These students will graduate but they are not being permitted to attend graduation ceremonies. An additional 40 students (in a class of 215) who financed the prank (including son #1) must perform 5 hours of Community service (cleaning the schools under the supervision of the custodial staff) in order to earn back the privilege of attending graduation.

Now I have mixed feelings about the way the school district is handling this. They have very clearly drawn a line in the sand and will not back down from these decisions. While everyone knows that this was an incredibly stupid thing to do, even the administration has admitted that they never intended this to be about bombs. And while the police had no choice but to bring in the bomb-sniffing dog, I'm not sure the students should be charged with a felony. I don' think that will stick once they go to court today, but I think it was a bit heavy handed. And as for my son and his cohort, the original statement was that they would be required to do "community service," which my son was perfectly willing to do in Pennsylvania. Having them clean the schools smells more like punishment than community service. These kids were buying into something far more innocuous and are being punished for something that was really out of their control. He is coming home for the day to "do his time," but he has made it clear he is doing this for his grandmothers. My mom is coming up from Florida for graduation and my mother-in-law (who is dying) will certainly want to see the photos.

All of this was, of course, reported in the local paper, but we also got space in the New York Times over the weekend. Unlike the local paper, the NY Times got it right. These events are a commentary on "these times," and the aftermath of Columbine and Virginia Tech. That forced the administration to draw a line in the sand and watch students and families line up on both sides of the line. Two friends of son #1 are among those arrested. I feel for them and their families. I hope all goes well today when they appear before the town judge.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Short Answer

Son #1 works as a counselor at a summer camp. The staff arrives in dribs and drabs in the weeks preceding the arrival of the campers. They call it "work camp," and I'm sure they do work setting up the facilities, etc. I think it's also a good time. No kids to worry about, nobody cares if you're a total slob, 3 meals a day, and party time. Since he has no final exams (he took AP exams in May), he will be going to camp on Saturday. As in the day after tomorrow. When camp ends, he will be home for a week or so, and then he's off to college! So these are probably the final days of him living at home. I know, some kids return home after college and parents have a hard time getting rid of them! Sure, he'll be home in a couple of weeks for graduation, and then again when he has college orientation. But right now I'm looking through a short lens and I am coming to terms with this reality. So this is it. It has forced me to think about so many things, but basically, did DH and I do good job preparing him for this? And the short answer is yes. Senior prom was last week and when I look at the pictures of him and his friends and classmates, I see grown-ups, adults, beautiful men and women. Yes, there's that whole "where did the time go" feeling, but mostly it's about the future, what lies ahead for them. And because the short answer is yes, I see wonderful opportunities, discovery, and new horizons.

But just short of the new horizons is the beachfront, which right now is littered with piles of laundry, a shopping list, and a very messy house. This is also my reality. I just feel a little bit happier tackling everyday life when the short answer is yes.

Monday, June 04, 2007

GSIU Week #23 and Halloweens Past

I had a great week on the bike. I rode on Monday (Memorial Day), Thursday evening, and Saturday and Sunday. Just under 100 miles. On Saturday I led a D+ ride through my corner of the county. It wasn't that long(22 miles) but it was hilly, so we moved slow, as slow as the slowest riders. We stopped for ice cream at my favorite homemade ice cream shop and there was only 1 person working, so that took a while. Then 2 of my slowest riders missed a turn, and I had to climb back up to the main road to either find them or get cell phone coverage to try to call them, so that took some time. It took forever, but we got thru it. On Sunday I met up with a couple of my riding friends for a 25 miler. None of us had ridden this route before, but when Lady J looked at the cue sheet, she gasped,"Whipporwill?" This ride featured hills aplenty and 3 of them were especially evil (including aforementioned Whipporwill Rd). But if you want to get stronger you gotta Dab the Wussy. So this past week, stepping it up was all about the hills. And it felt good.

On Saturday night DH and I had dinner/BBQ at a friends house with a few other friends. One of these friends brought along a slide projector and a carousel of slides taken at Halloween parties past..... really past... like 20-25 years ago past. With pictures of boyfriends and girlfriends before spouses, and spouses that are no longer spouses, people who could not be identified, and others that made you wonder, whatever happened to that person? But some of these pictures had us howling, laughing so hard we were crying, and remembering the days when we could stay awake into the wee hours. It was a blast, a blast from the past. Now we all plan to dive into our photo collections and do this again. And hopefully we will still be looking at photos of parties past 25 years from now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My New Hero

Yesterday the bike club had a tailgate party. There were 4 or 5 different level rides all starting from the same location. We all brought something to share, and when we all returned from our assorted rides, we had a lunch party. My ride went to Manor Park in Larchmont, which is on Long Island Sound. Its a lovely spot and I was talking to Lady B, who lives in Larchmont. She and her husband are long-time club members and are both probably in their mid-60s. She commented that she loves ocean swimming. I told her she should do a triathlon and she started to tell me that she has a whole shelf of triathlon trophies at home but she hasn't competed in about 10 years. She grew up in Far Rockaway and would swim long distances in the open water. She started bike riding as an adult, so when triathlons came into existence, she was 2/3 of the way there. Swimming was her strongest event, so she was usually among the first out of the water. She often acted as a therapists for other swimmers who would start to freak out in the open water (lots of novice traithletes have difficulty making the transition to open water after training in a pool), helping them calm down and get pointed in the right direction. Sometimes she was the only woman competing in her age group, so as long as she finished, she took first place! When someone would comment on how difficult it is to compete in a triathlon, she would tell them, "when you're swimming, you're lying down, when you're riding, you're sitting down, and if the running is tough, you can walk!"

Lady B is my new hero. Even though she is no longer competing, she is still riding and swimming and sailing. She competed in triathlons not to win, but to challenge herself and because it was fun and athletic. She just happened to pick up a whole bunch of trophies along the way. And anyone who looks at triathlons as 1 part lying down, 1 part sitting down and 1 part optional running, well, you gotta love their spirit! Anything that keeps you going and gets you to the finish line. And hats off to Mr. B, who gladly served as cheerleader, equipment manager, and photographer at all those events.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Walking Talking Mommies

On Friday I went to the HS track to run. As usual, there was a handful of walking talking mommies there. These women are my age, maybe even a little younger. They may or may not need to lose some weight. But none of them are fit. Now I realize that something is better than nothing, and some people can't run because of physical injuries. And some people can walk faster than I run! But these ladies were walking at the pace of a supermarket stroll, and I know that they think they are "exercising." For some reason, I found this extremely annoying. I wanted to scream at them to shut the f%$#(k up and move their asses until they sweat! But of course I didn't because I don't yell at people I barely know (I don't often yell at people I do know either). So instead I decided to show them what they are supposed to be doing, you know, lead by example. So I plugged into the iPod, cranked up the volume, and everytime I passed them I made sure I kept my head high and arms pumping. I wanted them to feel like unmotivated sloth-like walking talking track potatoes when they felt the wind as i wizzed by. And don't you dare suggest that 12 minute miles is hardly wizzing and does not generate a wind, because I was definitely wizzing and there was a hurricane on that HS track! The walking talking mommies may not have noticed, but behind the smile and the polite "hello," I was gloating. What a great way to spend an hour on a beautiful Friday evening of a 3-day weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2007


I had a bizarre dream last night. I went out for a run in a familiar location, around a lake. In reality, this is about a 5 mile run, but it was getting longer and longer in my dream. I was getting really tired, and I told myself "get to the top of this hill and you'll be fine," but I wasn't fine so I started crawling DOWNHILL. Then I realized that I had probably run about 7 miles and remembered I have this knee problem and I'm only supposed to be running 2 or 3 miles max. I was trying to figure out how I could have forgotten this and I woke up.

I haven't run in over a week, maybe there's a little spot in my brain that feels deprived of serotonin or whatever chemical your brain oozes when you get happy from running.

If I get done at work today at a decent time, I will run/crawl a couple of miles at the track, no hills.

Tomorrow morning I am leading a D ride for the bike club and even though I have ridden this route before, I decided to drive it to make sure 1) I know where I am going and 2) there are no surprises like closed roads. I got so freakin lost it wasn't funny. I ended up driving in circles for about 40 miles for a 23 mile ride!! It's a good thing I did this-- getting lost and tacking extra miles onto a D ride can get ugly, especially on a ride as hilly as this one. But it is going to be a beautiful day tomorrow and I'm psyched!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


1. Son #1 had all 4 wisdom teeth extracted today. He already had an offer from a classmate to buy his Vicodin.

2. Son #2 brought home "Ready or Not Tot" today. It's a doll that simulates what it is like to take care of a baby. The "baby" cries at irregular intervals and you have to feed the baby, burp the baby, change the diaper or amuse the baby. These tasks are accomplished by inserting keys into a slot in the doll's back. He has to take care of the baby for 24 hours, including overnight. I wouldn't be surprised if the baby is wearing a Yankees T-shirt to school tomorrow.
3. My brother bought my mom a Presto mailbox for Mother's Day. Basically it's a printer with a modem that can receive and print out emails and photos. You cannot send email, only receive. To set it up, you have to unhook the phone line from the phone, plug it into the Presto, then hook up a 2nd line from the Presto back into the phone. This is too complicated for my mother. My nieces are going to visit her next week, hopefully they can accomplish this task in under 60 seconds (including taking it out of the box).

4. I work at a small college. Every year the students have an auction to raise money for their student activities (yearbook, graduation, etc.). They ask faculty for donations. I donated homemade lunch for 2 for 5 days. Two students bought it and saved it for finals week. I think they were expecting turkey sandwiches, but I am really trying to make their lunches extra special and extra big. Mostly I've just made sure there are plenty of leftovers to pack for them. They've had meatloaf, corn and black bean salad, and build-your-own-burritos with grilled chicken and beef. The other night I made a big pot of turkey soup with wild rice and grilled portobello sandwiches with chipotle mayo. It's been extra work, but I am enjoying it.

5. DH has registered for a triathlon on June 10 in Harriman State Park. Swim 1/2, ride 16, run 3. He's been training hard and I think he will do well. His last triathlon was about 17 years ago.

6. On Sunday I went for a club bike ride. It was dreary and drizzly as I was driving to the start location and I almost turned around and went home, but I figured the weather was going to get better. Only 3 other people showed up, so it was me and the boys and the big hill. We decided to push it since it was just the 4 of us and it turned out to be a great ride. And I made it up the big hill.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Veggie Recipe

These leftoversare in my lunchbag today, along with some hummus and some fresh fruit.
I cooked the vegetables less than 45 minutes because they were on the verge of burning. Next time I think I will turn the oven down to 400. I happened to have fresh oregano and rosemary from another recipe, so I used fresh herbs. The recipe is from Vegetarian Times.

Italian-Style Roasted Vegetables
Serves 4 to 6

Many Moosewood patrons love the restaurant’s very versatile roasted vegetables, served with several variations. This version is dressed with Italian seasonings. Select at least four different vegetables, or follow the combination below. To speed preparation, parboil the harder, longer-cooking vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and potatoes, before roasting them.

Roasted Vegetables
2 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks or cut in half lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick semicircles
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks or sliced as above
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks or cut on diagonal
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks or cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 bell peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks

Italian Dressing
4 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
1 tsp. salt

  1. To make Roasted Vegetables: Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Parboil potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots in boiling water to cover for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain well. In large bowl, combine parboiled vegetables with onions, zucchini and bell peppers.
  3. To make Italian Dressing: Place ingredients in bowl, and whisk together or purée in blender.
  4. Toss vegetables with dressing, and place in single layer on large unoiled baking tray.
  5. Bake vegetables, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender, about 45 minutes.
180 Calories
4g Protein
3g Total Fat
35g Carbohydrates
410mg Sodium
4g Fiber
11g Sugars

Can We Talk?

I"m 51 years old and this "change of life" thing is happening. I'm not having major problems with symptoms, at least not yet, but they have gotten more noticeable over the last month or two. The biggest problem I'm having right now is sleeping poorly. Sometimes its night sweats, but even without that happening I wake up several times during the night and I'm feeling tired during the day. Every website that talks about menopause mentions "regular exercise" and "eating healthy" to combat the symptoms. I really believe that this is one reason that I am not having more difficulty (either that or I am delusional; the worst is yet to come), but I know I can do better, especially with the food. Over the last month I have found myself caught in a vicious cycle. I'm tired so I don't spend the necessary time on food prep, I eat more processed foods and I feel tired. I know I have to break this cycle to get my energy back and have an easier time "changing." I just can't afford to "donate" any part of my caloric intake to junk. More than ever, I need to eat clean. Whole grains. Plant food. No bar codes. No white food. Instead of thinking about all the foods I can't have ( ziti....), I will focus on all the wonderful foods I can enjoy, especially as we come into the summer season. I do owe son #2 an ice cream treat and if I'm going there, well I'm having ice cream too. So it's not about being perfect, but I Gotta Step It Up (GSIU).

Monday, May 07, 2007

GSIU Week #18

It's been a looooong time since I did one of these. So, to recap, you Gotta Step it Up (GSIU). What did you do this week to step it up?
This past week I worked out 5 days out of 7. Yesterday was Cinco de Velo, the bike club's annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. There were bike rides for all levels of riders, all leaving from the same location. After the rides, there was a huge Mexican fiesta! I volunteered to lead the D ride, which was only 12 miles. At one point we had the option to re-loop, which added 6 miles to the ride. These additional miles had the 2 nastiest hills. Most of my group opted out, but I took a few of the stronger riders on the longer ride. And the hills were easier the second time. Gotta step it up! Besides, the more hills you climb, the more Mexican food you can eat.

Roger Clemens is a Yankee once again, gotta love that!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

DIY Boot Camp (or the ADHD Workout)

Today was too nice a day to be in the gym. I contemplated going out for a bike ride, but I wasn't in the mood for a solo ride. I ran 2.5 miles yesterday and I didn't want to put too much additional mileage on my knee (I'm not supposed to run on consecutive days). So I decided to go to the track and do whatever. I rummaged around and I found a teeny tiny soccer ball, a jump rope, an elastic band and a nerf Vortex (see photo). Add in a heart rate monitor, an iPod, a bottle of water and I was ready to rock!
I was pretty much the only person using the track for the hour that I was there. That was good because I didn't feel goofy. I kinda made things up and when something got too hard or just wasn't working or wasn't fun, I did something else. I dribbled the teeny tiny soccer ball down the football field first with my right foot then with my left. I did the same thing with the Vortex-- I threw it as far as I could, ran to retrieve it and then threw it down the field again until I scored a "touchdown." First I threw it with my right arm then I did it with my left (that was a sorry sight, glad no one was watching). I did dips and push ups off the bench and did some arm/shoulder exercises with the band. I tied the band around my ankles and did sidewinders down the track, then I took it off and did sideways jumpy/leapy things going the other way. I did one lap jumping rope and another running backwards. It may not have been the most efficient workout, I didn't work on upper body or lower body, I didn't even get in a real cardio thing, but it was fun! I'm sure if I really thought about it I could put together a really tough workout that would kick my butt.

Assassin- the Game continues. Both of my kids went on a stake-out with their waterguns, binoculars and walkie talkies. There are alliances, setups, and much covert activity. I'm staying out of it, that's for sure.